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Savvy grocers have already tested or rolled out online grocery ordering and delivery. Those not offering this service will likely do so this year because more households are interested in trying this shopping convenience. Nobody wants to lose shoppers to a competing supermarket or a pure play in e-commerce.
The really savvy grocers will be exploring partnerships to increase their e-commerce capability in creative ways. For example, ShopRite in the northeast is collaborating with the city of Baltimore, which recently opened its seventh “virtual supermarket.” The program gives residents of underserved areas of the city access to affordable, healthy food. People can order groceries online from ShopRite stores and have them delivered to one of seven designated locations. This is the first program in the country to accept food stamps (EBT) for online grocery orders. There are plans to expand to other areas of the city.
If this initiative works in Baltimore, it can work in other major cities across the country to bring groceries to residents of so-called food deserts.
Another creative collaboration was announced recently at the Consumer Electronics show (CES) in Las Vegas. The partnership brings together Samsung, MasterCard, MyWebGrocer, FreshDirect, and ShopRite, which clearly looks for opportunities.
The Samsung Family Hub refrigerator launched at CES is the first “connected” fridge. It enables consumers to order groceries from a small panel on the front of the door. The embedded 21½-inch touchscreen comes preloaded with the Groceries by MasterCard shopping app.
MasterCard is launching the service in the tri-state market of New York, New Jersey and Connecticut with grocer partners FreshDirect and ShopRite. The app is integrated with MyWebGrocer, an e-commerce software provider, enabling additional retailers to transact through the fridge.
When consumers tap the MasterCard app on the refrigerator door, they are taken to a multi-merchant shopping cart to select food and beverages. The grocery partners deliver the order. MasterCard officials say the app can learn a family’s shopping habits and make personalized suggestions on products and brands. The app handles ordering, cart process, integration with grocers, and payments, which can be done with a variety of well-known credit cards, not just MasterCard.
It will be interesting to monitor sales (it’s a pricey $5,000 per fridge) and find out if consumers like ordering groceries this way. If they do, ShopRite will have succeeded in expanding its grocery ordering program in another creative and collaborative way.